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. 2009 Sep;198(2-3):273-85.
doi: 10.1007/s00221-009-1816-3. Epub 2009 Apr 29.

Preservation of Crossmodal Selective Attention in Healthy Aging

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Free PMC article

Preservation of Crossmodal Selective Attention in Healthy Aging

Christina E Hugenschmidt et al. Exp Brain Res. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

The goal of the present study was to determine if older adults benefited from attention to a specific sensory modality in a voluntary attention task and evidenced changes in voluntary or involuntary attention when compared to younger adults. Suppressing and enhancing effects of voluntary attention were assessed using two cued forced-choice tasks, one that asked participants to localize and one that asked them to categorize visual and auditory targets. Involuntary attention was assessed using the same tasks, but with no attentional cues. The effects of attention were evaluated using traditional comparisons of means and Cox proportional hazards models. All analyses showed that older adults benefited behaviorally from selective attention in both visual and auditory conditions, including robust suppressive effects of attention. Of note, the performance of the older adults was commensurate with that of younger adults in almost all analyses, suggesting that older adults can successfully engage crossmodal attention processes. Thus, age-related increases in distractibility across sensory modalities are likely due to mechanisms other than deficits in attentional processing.

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Diagrammic overview of paradigm structure. The left panel shows a schematic representation of the spatial task, where circles represent light emitting diodes (LEDs) and squares indicate speaker position. Illumination of LEDs is represented by larger circles. This example is a validly cued visual trial, where the visual cue is followed by illumiation of the top right LED. The right panel is an example of the non-spatial task, illustrated with one of the visual farm animal targets. Both examples show visual targets, but auditory targets were presented with equal frequency
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Mean results of endogenous attention tasks. Attentional effects (cost and benefit) are shown in milliseconds. Error bars represent standard error of the mean

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